February 20, 2008

Tuymans the new Mr. Big

On everyone's list of favorite painters, Luc Tuymans is usually near the top. His early abstract-ish paintings, small and wan, were nothing if not winning...but does the old formula (near-monochromatic color, sketchy brushwork, mysterious fading imagery) still work when the scale is monumental? Zwirner's press release explains that Tuymans has turned his attention to Walt Disney's legacy, examining how the animation studio grew into a family-oriented media giant with quasi-utopian ambitions. Zwirner asserts that this new series of paintings "offers a critique of the hegemonic control of economic and cultural capital and the implicit dangers in a reality based on the production of magic." And I thought his work was about painting. Perhaps Tuyman's grand scale (one painting measures 144.88 x 200.39 inches) may reflect another of his concerns: growing his own legacy. Making mega-paintings is no longer merely a development for painters whose work runs naturally in that direction; it seems to be a requirement for those who hope to join the A-list. Clearly size counts in contemporary collections these days, and painters are forever being encouraged to "go bigger," even if the scale shift defies their intuitive attraction to smaller dimensions. Stay tuned for a full roundup of reviews.

"Luc Tuymans: Forever, The Management of Magic," David Zwirner, New York, NY. Through March 22.

Related post:
Luc Tuymans and Mickey Mouse

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